A cat’s stomach is different from a human stomach in that it can digest meat without having any other foods mixed in.
Cats are unable to produce the enzyme amylase, which is needed to break down starches and sugars. Cats can go for days without food and not die, but they will need water.
The longest a cat has gone without food or water was recorded at 39 days!
They can survive on their fat reserves, so if you’re thinking of giving your pet a diet, think again!
Why Cats Can Go Without Eating
They will need to drink water, but they won’t be able to eat.
The cat’s stomach doesn’t handle liquids well, so a bit of water won’t be enough to quench their thirst. If they can’t drink, they will die of dehydration.
Also, cats without food and water will not produce waste either, so the waste management system will have to work overtime!
Cats do not need a small amount of water to survive.
A cat’s body will work out how much water is required by the body. If a cat drinks a full bowl of water, then it will produce a lot of waste.
Instead, a cat will die if it doesn’t drink. You can help if you want to help if your cat is in danger of dying of dehydration, but don’t force the issue! It is better to wait a few days to see if they can get their thirst and hunger under control.
Feline Starvation Signs
Since cats do not have any other problems, they will not have any telltale signs that they are in danger.
- They will not be overly thirsty or have signs of dehydration.
- They won’t be eating so much that their stomach is distended or hard.
- They will not be vomiting or showing signs of hunger.
If you think your cat may be in trouble, call your veterinarian.
Not eating: Though this is not common, a cat will not eat.
They will not even drink water. The body usually starts to shut down after one day of not eating or drinking. If your cat is not eating, it’s because they aren’t hungry. This can be very different from another cat being away from home, where they may be eating out of boredom.
Not drinking: This is not normal behaviour.
If your cat is not drinking water, this can be dangerous, and they should be immediately taken to the vet. If you are concerned your cat isn’t drinking, try adding water to their food.
It helps them get used to the taste of new food by mixing it with their existing food.
What to do if your cat goes without eating for a day or two
If your cat goes without food for just a day or two, consider it a good sign and definitely not a cause for concern.
However, if your cat has not eaten in four or five days, the likely culprit is either a gastrointestinal disorder or an upper respiratory tract infection. These are more than likely being caused by an upper respiratory infection such as kennel cough or upper respiratory syncytial virus.
To make a diagnosis, you can take the cat to the veterinarian’s office, where he or she can test the cat for some of these common respiratory diseases such as kennel cough, rhinovirus, or influenza.
Tips For Making Sure Your Cat Has Enough Food and Water
- Make sure your cat has access to fresh water at least once a day.
- Fill a dish up with clean, fresh water and leave it out for them to drink. Not only that but they should be fed in the morning and night, like any other normal dog or human.
- If you have a serious problem with your cat going a while without eating or drinking, try to make your home as attractive as possible, giving them other items to eat besides dry food.
The Longest A Cat Has Gone Without Food or Water
Erik Hagen, an animal behaviourist and owner of Buckland Hills Animal Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, has told Best Friends Animal Society that he has heard of several cases where a cat has survived without food or water for up to 40 days. “It is relatively rare,” Hagen said.
“I’ve heard of as little as five to six days in very unusual cases, but the most I have heard of is around 40 days.”
It is possible that a cat would die of a disease or overwork its kidneys if it was unable to eat for so long, but the results aren’t reliable.
So, there you have it!
Knowing the answer to some of the most commonly asked questions about cats and food will save you some frustration and time spent online trying to find answers to a question you didn’t even know you had.